By Omari Jackson
The icy weather held Georgia captive, and for the first time in many years, Atlanta felt the pangs of the winter cold. But no one thought it would be her final moments in life, despite the truth that there is a time to be born and to die.
“How did it happen?”
The voice boomed from behind me. I whirled around; a young woman of about twenty three was standing there, her face serious and wanting to know how Elizabeth’s death had come. I could not figure out where I had known her, but true Elizabeth had been pronounced dead when she was rushed to the local hospital, the night before.
“I wish I know,” I said, with a weak smile.
The young woman held her head high, and though it was a little dark in my apartment I could see worry on her face.
“Do you believe that she is dead?”
“I don’t know what to believe,” I said, “but it has been reported in the media and those who had gone there brought the news that she was dead.”
“Did you know her personally?”
“Not exactly,” I said, grinning bitterly in the face that seemed to change at every speech, “I know friends who knew her, and she was a sweet young woman.”
“Oh,” she said, as if she was no longer interested in the discussion, “they say that about all of them.”
“What did you say?”
My voice was louder now, but I could not feel the presence of anyone in the room. It was then that I began to have a fit.
My body shook, involuntarily, and my hands danced by my side. Who was I talking to?
I sauntered toward the corner of the room, and checked around and there was no one in there.
I began to talk to myself.
Anyone here? Was I going mad or something? I was talking to someone a while ago but who was that?
Fear held me captive. My two-bedroom apartment was becoming a nightmare for me. Then I began to get the picture somehow clearer.
A Liberian woman was reported to have been struck down, along with an American woman, when they stopped their cars to check a fender-bender, and another woman had driven straight through the women, killing them both.
The story on the news had unnerved me, and I was wondering how could that tragedy have been prevented, and then boom, someone, a woman, had responded and we had chatted for a while.
I initially thought it was a dream or that I was standing somewhere outside and there were people familiar with the case, and therefore I was sharing my opinion on the story, but did not realize that I was alone in the room and someone had come to join in the dialogue.
“This is weird,” I told myself, and by now my body had adjusted to the fear, and my hands were no longer dancing by my side.
The noise startled me.
“Who is that?” I shouted, and moved towards the door. I had been living alone in this apartment for the last two years, and it was the first time that I was becoming openly afraid to remain here alone.
A voice said, “Huh?”
“Huh what?” I said, nearing the location now, my heart fluttering in my chest. Questions came to my mind, and I wondered if someone was playing some tricks on me. I did not know the young woman who had been reported dead, and considering the nature of her death, I was in sympathy with her.
Accidental death is one of the most unfortunate ones in places where every day trip is made by a car. But from her story, she was apparently coming from work or something and when the fender bender occurred, she wanted to make sure that there was nothing wrong with the car.
My residence in Lawrenceville neared one of the local grave sites, and though there were always fresh-painted graves, I never saw anyone burying relatives there.
On several occasions, I wondered about the future of mankind, and had reassured myself that since in death there is no conscious existence, it sounds reasonable that the dead will be concealed till the resurrection promised in Scripture.
The idea of a resurrection has always comforted me, and also by knowing what is also written in Scripture that whether we live or die, everything is to His (Jesus’) glory, and therefore I have a comfortable understanding of death and its mystery.
But then why could such a belief? It was clear that someone had been in the room with me, but who was she?
Having searched all the corners that I thought someone could hide to scare me, and finding no one, I rushed to the center table and grabbed the Holy Bible, and held it in my hands, like a mother cuddling an only child, after a tragedy.
“The Lord is my Sheppard,” I sang, “and I shall not want.”
Like a riddle, my tongue rattled the famous Psalm 23, and in a few seconds, I had regained some reassurance of God’s grace, deep in thought.
I could not help, but felt appreciative of God’s wonderful comfort for the living, realizing that no matter what the situation would be, God would be our only protector.
The mystery of life is fraught with uncertainties, and it is only in the Scripture that some understanding is gleaned from the curse of it. Salvation was becoming clearer to me now, for after all our hard work, if death would smother everything, and there is an apparent hopelessness, then why was man described as the glory of Devine Creation?
I could not imagine the shock when the death of the young Liberian sister was announced to the family, somewhere in Atlanta, and as I gazed at the distance, watching and imagining it, I shuddered at the thought, but I regained the comfort that is promised for those who wait on the Lord.
Personally, I had been waiting on the Lord; the day violence broke out in Liberia and smothered the living and the beast.
In my most difficult moments, I had sought refuge and sang the song, Amazing Grace, and when the goings seemed tough, I would hide behind the song, “Hear Me Dear Lord, For the Days Are Wicked,” and these had comforted me!
Now with the death of a young Liberian sister, I was awakening to the reality of sorrow. And what was more, the recent tragic earthquake in poor Haiti, where close to two hundred thousand were buried alive, gave me much to think about.
“We should always remember the only condition that is inevitable,” I said it aloud, “for in the end, which comes unexpected, we would meet mankind’s enemy to complete the circle of our existence.”
I may never be able to know who engaged me in the conversation, but one thing I was finally certain about was my determination to face the certainty and the uncertainty of life head-on. For the Scripture has also assured that there is no hatred, work or devising in the grave, where the living finally end up in death.
“I know she is gone,” I mused, “may God’s undeserved kindness remember her forever.”